George Schuyler’s reputation was made as a biting satirist, and, later in his life and career, as a notorious African American conservative. As a columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier for five decades, Schuyler was noted for his acerbic wit and intellectual irreverence. In 1931, Schuyler’s politics were somewhat in transition, but his desire and ability to ridicule irrationality and pomposity were focused. Black No More mocks America’s racial caste system and the pseudoscience upon which racism often was based. Influenced by journalist H. L. Mencken, Schuyler’s novel uses thinly disguised historical figures in its mission to humiliate not only white racists but also the racial romanticizing of black leaders. Appearing at the end of the Harlem Renaissance, a decade that saw continued racially motivated violence, especially lynching, the novel takes on both African Americans and whites who make too much of racial difference. Although Schuyler was by no means a simplistic assimilationist, he did believe that African Americans were fundamentally American in commitment, temperament, culture, and interest.
Part of the power and impact of Schuyler’s novel is that, for all of its outrageousness, it relied upon processes of identification and recognition with its reader. Dr. Shakespeare A. Beard is a thinly disguised W. E. B. Du Bois, and the National Social Equality League is clearly modeled on the National Association for the...
(The entire section is 482 words.)